Attorney-Client Privilege and Confidentiality in Florida

If you are involved in a legal case in Florida, your communication with your attorney is covered under attorney-client privilege, as defined by the Florida Evidence Code. In addition, the Florida Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct further outline attorney-client confidentiality. These two standards overlap in some areas but they are not the same and neither is absolute.

Attorney-Client Privilege

The attorney-client privilege applies when a client (or potential client) divulges information to an attorney for the purpose of legal advice. The intention of this privilege is to permit the client to confidently and honestly share information with his or her legal counsel in order to receive the best legal representation.

The attorney-client privilege belongs to the client – that is to say, only the client can give the lawyer permission to discuss the case with anyone else, except those persons necessary to the providing of legal representation. This may include other lawyers or expert witnesses. The attorney may then only divulge what information is absolutely necessary.

The privilege is permanent unless the client officially waives the privilege, and it does not die with the client. The attorney may never divulge client secrets if the client does not give consent.

Any type of communication that can reasonably be expected to be confidential is included in attorney-client privilege:

  • Conversations held in private regarding the legal details relating to the case
  • Phone calls with legal representatives
  • Written communication in which reasonable precautions are taken to maintain secrecy – personal emails, letters, or memos directly exchanged or exchanged through legal staff


Attorney-client privilege applies to evidence sought by subpoena, discovery, or other compulsion by law. Thus, an attorney cannot be forced to turn over communications with the client or testify as a witness against the client in a court of law.

Confidentiality applies to the voluntary disclosure of information. The attorney has an ethical duty to protect his or her client’s personal legal information, abstaining from discussing it with persons who are not directly involved in the client’s legal representation.

Exceptions to the rules

Just because information is shared with an attorney, does not automatically mean that it will remain secret. For instance, if the client shares information from medical records or a police report, the attorney may still not divulge the conversation held with the client, but the information can be collected in another manner. 

This applies to information the client knows that is disclosed to the lawyer. For instance, if the client knows of someone’s whereabouts at a certain time and shares it with the lawyer, while the lawyer may not divulge that information, the client could be compelled to, if put on the witness stand. 

Asking an attorney-friend for legal advice would not be covered under either standard, since no legal relationship exists. While the friend may choose to maintain confidentiality, the friend could be required to divulge the information in a court of law since there is no attorney-client relationship. 

Neither standard applies under certain circumstances:

  • If the information is shared in the presence of a third party who is not required for legal purposes, the information is not considered privileged or confidential. This would apply if the client talks to the attorney in a public setting, even if discussing legal matters.
  • If the information does not involve legal matters, the attorney may divulge that information.
  •  If the client divulges an intention to commit fraud or harm another person, the attorney may divulge such information and may be duty-bound under matters of ethics to report such intentions (for instance, the intent to kill another person).

While there are exceptions, attorney-client privilege and confidentiality are valuable safeguards. But the client must also be vigilant. A good lawyer carefully advises his or her client to limit communications with others regarding legal cases, including posting on social media. It is important to also ask friends and family to refrain from discussing the case.

Get the help you need

As a Florida personal injury lawyer, I am committed to helping Florida residents throughout the state receive just and fair compensation to help them cope with the injuries they have sustained through someone else’s negligence.

Every case I take on becomes personal to me, as if one of my own friends or loved ones had been injured, and I work vigorously to uncover every possible expense or complication for my clients to help them get the maximum settlement for their injuries. I’m not afraid to go to court if necessary, and I have a track record of winning significant awards. Contact me today, 24/7, at (954) 448-7288, to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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